When I entered school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall of 1991, the oppressively liberal dominance of the campus and the campus-sponsored media simply pushed me further to the extreme right. I joined the campus' sole conservative newspaper (the Orange and Blue Observer) as a copy editor, and through my contacts at the paper, I became involved in College Republicans and many other campus conservative movements, including joining the campaign of John Piland, who was running for the Illinois House of Representatives, but dropped out of the race following suspicious gerrymandering of the Urbana-Champaign area.
I also got a kick out of annoying liberals, which is so easy to do given their hypersensitivity to so many issues. I routinely showed up at their protests for the sole purpose of protesting the protests, to the point that by the fall of my second year at U of I, on Columbus Day of 1992 (the 500th anniversary of Columbus discovering America), I was officially labeled in the campus newspaper with my self-given moniker of "official University of Illinois campus protest protester" following a shouting match with liberals who were covering themselves with blood and carrying caskets across the quad to protest all of the evils Christopher Columbus had brought upon "their people".
One of my boldest (and probably stupidest) protest-protests was during the takeover of the campus administration building, late in my first year of school. A group of around one hundred Latino "students" stormed the administration building and forced the employees to shut down their operations for the day. I walked into the middle of the protest carrying a copy of the university's Code on Student Affairs and read them the section which stated that it was illegal for any student to disrupt the normal business operation of the university. I then demanded that the protest organizers be arrested. The police ignored me, so I left the center of the protest, got my car, and returned to the fringe of the protest, which was outside the administration building near the street. I pulled up next to them, rolled down my windows, and blasted INXS' "Original Sin". When the protester with the bullhorn realized that none of the passers-by could hear him over my music, he motioned to a group of extremely large men who walked over, surrounded my car, and asked what the problem was. Like a true smartass, I handed him a copy of the campus code and asked him to read paragraph such-and-such of section something-or-another. He threw the book on the ground and told me that "his people" were going to do to me what "my people" did to Rodney King. He also threw in the fact that they were going to kill me, rather than simply beat me senseless. At that point, I remembered that I had some homework to do or something, threw it into drive, and got out of there.
Later that night, the administration building remained under siege. The police showed up in riot gear just in case things got ugly. The protesters panicked at the sight of the riot police and launched an unprovoked attack on the cops. The cops responded by arresting several of the protesters, while many others escaped. Those who escaped scattered across the campus and began lighting several buildings on fire and looting stores. When I heard the initial reports, I took to the streets in my car armed only with a tire iron and began looking for trouble. Other than saving a couple of guys who were being pelted with billiards balls that the protesters had stolen from the pool hall, I wasn't able to accomplish much.
I also gained notoriety during the annual Hash Wednesday protest. The protest is held each year to protest the status of marijuana as a controlled substance, and typically draws hundreds, if not thousands of protesters to the U of I quad. I was given an on-camera interview by the local NBC affiliate, and by the time the story made it to air that evening, my soundbite was the only representative opinion from any campus student or faculty member. The quote lives in infamy: "I think they're all just a bunch of anti-establishment goofballs who are about a quarter of a century too late for these kinds of ideas."
I served as program and security manager for a campus visit by former Attorney General Edwin Meese, which was no small task considering that the previous time Mr. Meese visited the campus, there were violent protests. Nothing serious happened this time, which was a little disappointing given that there were armed undercover guards in the audience who told me that they would come out with guns blazing if I gave them the high sign.
I was also part of a large group of College Republicans who heckled Hillary Clinton during her campaign visit to UIUC before the 1992 election. At this one, liberals called me everything from a Nazi to a fascist. Kind of ironic given that they're the ones who favor a strong central government which controls the actions of its people, but oh well.
These days, I don't get nearly as involved in politics as I used to. Sure, I still despise liberals (although they never cease to entertain me), but I'm not out there fighting like I used to.
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